GENEVA - The U.N. refugee agency says water rations for tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have been cut because of a serious shortage.
The U.N. refugee agency reports that temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and sporadic rainfall have reduced the region's water supply to a critically low level.
UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says aid agencies will begin trucking in water in the next two weeks for the more than 140,000 Rohingya refugees living southeast Bangladesh's Teknaf Peninsula. He estimates the operation will cost about $60,000 a month.
Because of the growing shortage, the UNHCR began rationing the refugees' daily water supply.
"We are talking here about 20 liters a day," Mahecic said. "This is a minimum standard in an emergency and we, because of the shortage of water, had to go even lower now to 15 liters a day per person. This is supposed to meet all of peoples' needs for water during the day. So, from hygiene, preparing food, sanitation, everything."
Mahecic notes the situation is different in the northern part of Bangladesh's Teknaf Peninsula, where the 900,000 Rohingya refugees living in the Kutupalong settlement in Cox's Bazar have water available through boreholes.
The dry spell in the southern part of the peninsula is expected to last a few more weeks, andwill likely be broken when the monsoon season begins in June.
In preparation, Mahecic says the UNHCR is building better facilities to capture and preserve rain water. He said hundreds of refugees are participating in a project to create a reservoir to capture monsoon rain in Teknaf and preserve it throughout the year.
The project, which is run by the World Food Program with humanitarian agency ADRA and supported by UNHCR, should temporarily improve the situation.